Movie Review – The Darkest Minds

Another post-apocalyptic film about a group of teenagers trying to save the world… yawn.

⭐ ⭐
Elle Cahill

The Darkest Minds offers up yet another adaptation of a post-apocalyptic tween book series. This time a virus has wiped out most of the children in the world, leaving those who survive with super powers. With abilities that range from high intelligence, to telekinesis and telepathy, the children with the greatest powers are hunted down as it’s believed they pose a danger to society. After escaping from a compound, telepathic Ruby (Amandla Stenberg) bands together with a bunch of other kids to find sanctuary from those who hunt them.

Sound familiar? Well, that’s because it is. Following a similar narrative to the Divergent series, The Maze Runner franchise and The 5th Wave, The Darkest Minds is simply another addition to the pile of young adult franchises flooding into cinemas. At least this time around the casting seems to be right, with actors who actually look the age of the children they’re playing.

Stenberg shines bright in the lead role. She brings a certain vulnerability that makes you willing to follow her through the course of the film. Newcomer Harris Dickinson brings an interesting screen presence as Ruby’s love interest, displaying sensitivity and a roughness all at once. Dickinson and Stenberg’s chemistry is palpable, and he’s definitely one to watch as he continues with his career. Skylan Brooks, whose character Chub is used purely for comic relief, ends up being the character with the most heart and becomes the one to root for.

Despite failing to offer anything new, The Darkest Minds isn’t the worst of its kind. Although their potentially is never fully tapped into, the cast bring a certain grace and maturity to the film that ensure it’s not entirely forgettable.

The Darkest Minds is available in Australian cinemas from August 16 

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox


Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is great fun, but one must ask the question: why was it ever made?

⭐ ⭐ ½
Zachary Cruz-Tan

Han Solo, the hero of Solo: A Star Wars Story, has been a mythic figure since 1977. He’s a charming, roguish hunk who plays by his own rules, scoffs at authority and occasionally obeys the commands of his heart. He’s also a character many students of Star Wars love dearly. But I suspect, after watching this new Star Wars adventure, many of those students will want to protest.

This is first and foremost a movie designed for fans of the beloved franchise. It doesn’t have the parts to satisfy the indifferent, except of course in scenes where spaceships swoop around maelstroms and blasters are fired left, right and centre. It’s a story that’s rooted in the history of the galaxy far, far away, and so every little detail matters. Or at least it should.

Solo tells the story of Han (Alden Ehrenreich), from his tortured existence on a tyrannical planet and blossoming courtship with fellow slave Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), to his early success as a professional smuggler and ace pilot of the Millennium Falcon. It also answers such questions as the birth of his name, how he founded his eternal bromance with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and how he completed the famed ‘Kessel Run’ in 12 parsecs. I don’t recall ever asking these questions, or indeed wanting them shown to me in such unimaginative plainness, but there you have it. The myth has been stripped away from the man.

Doesn’t matter. Solo: A Star Wars Story is decent, honest fun. It doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, which is what any successful Star Wars movie should strive for. The plot is more basic than a vanilla sponge cake. The characters are scribbled in from bits and pieces of characters past. Its humour is nothing but second-hand gags. There is not a moment when you fear for anyone’s safety. There are weird planets, obligatory lounge acts and endless battles. It’s a movie programmed to keep you smiling from start to finish.

The battles, of course, are very well filmed and seem to occupy much of the movie’s runtime. Han, desperate to pilot a ship that will allow him to rescue his beloved from the clutches of bondage, teams up with a thief called Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), who himself is working for criminal mastermind Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).

Their quest leads them to Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), an expert smuggler whose co-pilot is L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a radical droid that walks and talks with the sass for change. She crusades for droid equality, an idea that makes sense today but otherwise rubbed me the wrong way completely. No-one goes to a Star Wars movie for lessons in social politics. At least I don’t.

But perhaps I’m speaking too much like a Star Wars fanatic and not giving enough weight to the positives? Possibly. However, I see no other way to discuss a Star Wars movie, since I’ve spent most of my life with them. They feed into each other and can no longer be judged independently.

This one doesn’t measure up to its predecessors in terms of stakes and depth – and it might upset diehard Han Solo followers who feel they’ve been duped by midichlorians again – but in the hands of Ron Howard it just scrapes through. Am I itching to see it again? I’m afraid not. Not even a little.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is available in Australian cinemas from May 24

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Movie Review – Annihilation

Natalie Portman. Scary Creatures. A dome shaped border that looks like a rainbow sheet of film. Welcome to the world of Annihilation by Alex Garland.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Josip Knezevic

Annihilation is an unusually neutral experience. It’s one of those films that doesn’t quite reach greatness, but it’s also not terrible. It just leaves you feeling like, um… it was OK

That isn’t to say it isn’t an enjoyable film – Annihilation does some awesome and innovative stuff. But there’s a whole lot of bullshit going on that brings it down to be just another sub-par science fiction flick.

Everyone has been raving about this film, claiming that it “completely challenges you” and is “really thoughtful and intellectual” and yes, it’s smart here and there, but nowhere near the level it’s being praised to be at.

The film has a trend of inconsistency – one that not only shadows the plot, but also, it’s visual aesthetic. The world within the dome can go from a burst of beautiful colours, to a shitty blend of dullness the next. While this may have been an intentional narrative decision, it nevertheless retracts from the entire experience. Wouldn’t it have made just as much sense to keep this world spectacularly designed throughout? It just misses the opportunity to be a fantastic film on a visual scale.

The same path of thinking can be said for the lead performances. Annihilation features three incredible actors, with Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac and Jennifer Jason Leigh, but for the most part, each of their performances come across as stale and completely reserved . It does make some sense for Isaac’s character to be this way, but it doesn’t work well for Jennifer Jason Leigh at all. She delivers her lines in a neutral way and it doesn’t even feel like she’s fully there most of the time. Nothing she says seems to carry any motivation in any respect.

The actors can’t take the full blame, the fault ultimately lies with writer/director Alex Garland. Garland has the ability to write some fantastic ideas one second, then completely throws this away the next with some horrendous dialogue.

So overall, I would recommend seeing Annihilation, but it’s a suggestion that comes with no real sense of urgency. This is a very missable film, but if you do end up seeing it on Netflix, there are some aspects to enjoy. Just don’t be surprised if you come away from it and find yourself constantly responding to others with, um… it was OK.

Annihilation is available on Netflix in Australia 

Image courtesy of Peter Mountain, Paramount Pictures & Netflix, Source: IMDb 

Movie Review – Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a fitting resolution to a tiresome and ultimately forgettable franchise.

Josip Knezevic

There’s no point holding back: I abhorred the Maze Runner: The Death Cure from the moment it started. Not even the luscious Vmax furniture or the ample amounts of legroom were able to make the experience enjoyable. I was expecting – or at least hoping – for a film that didn’t repeat everything we’ve already seen in the previous films… how very wrong I was.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure returns to its apocalyptic world that’s overrun with the damned and infected or ‘cranks’. Our heroes Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) are continuing their endless journey to bring down the powerful World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department, appropriately abbreviated as WCKD. Time is running out for Thomas to find a way to save his friends as infections spread and threaten everyone. Will he make it in time? Who will die in the process? Is there any chance I’m going to care?

It’s disheartening to see a studio waste a budget of more than $80 million on a film filled with plot holes and conveniences. There’s so many films out there that have been made for far less and have managed to produce something so much better, but alas, I digress.

The biggest problem with the third and final Maze Runner is its incredibly long run time; at 2 hours and 22 minutes, it’s arduous viewing. Why director Wes Ball did not cut scenes that easily could have been omitted without impacting the overall narrative is baffling to me. The opening scenes, for starters, hold no implications on the rest of the story, and merely draw out the film for the sake of drawing it out. Meanwhile, several developments in the final act drag out the climax to frustrating lengths.

Unless you’re a fan of the franchise and somehow enjoyed the other instalments, I cannot recommend you go and see this film.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is available in Australian cinemas from January 25 

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Movie Review – The Shape of Water

After forays into blockbuster anime (Pacific Rim) and gothic horror (Crimson Peak), Guillermo del Toro returns to his roots for a genre-bending monster mash.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Rhys Graeme-Drury

The Shape of Water sees Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro deliver a dark fantasy fairytale, a suspenseful conspiracy thriller, a fish-out-of-water comedy (literally) and an enchanting love story all wrapped up in one beautiful package. It’s Amelie meets Creature From The Black Lagoon meets The Little Mermaid, and it’s easily del Toro’s best English language film to date.

Set in Baltimore during the Cold War, The Shape of Water centres around Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute janitor, and her relationship with a mysterious amphibian creature (Doug Jones) being held in the secret military research facility where she works. Through their limited ability to communicate, the odd couple strike up an unlikely romance that’s bound by their shared feeling of loneliness and incompleteness.

However, their secret romance soon hits a snag when Michael Shannon’s ruthless military colonel plans to destroy the creature, and so the pair must devise an escape plan with the help of Elisa’s neighbour (Richard Jenkins) and co-worker (Octavia Spencer).

Meticulous in its craftsmanship, every frame, facet and fabric in The Shape of Water is dripping with sumptuous detail, from the intricate sets and rich colours, to the grotesque design of the creature himself, complete with gills, frills, fangs and googly eyes that swivel.

It’s a masterful period creature feature that is overflowing with affection for its setting, its influences and its themes. Del Toro’s screenplay, which was co-written by Vanessa Taylor, plumbs the depths of prejudice, politics and science, as well as sexuality. The cherry on top is Alexandre Desplat’s dreamy and bewitching score, which sounds as though you’re sipping on a latte in an underwater Parisian café.

Hawkins delivers a career-best performance as Elisa, a timid spinster who lives above a movie theatre. Whether she’s dancing with her mop and bucket or staging a dramatic breakout, Hawkins brings compassion and ferocity in equal measure. Similarly, Jones brings majestic physicality as the creature, buried underneath layers of prosthetics but still emoting like the best of them.

The Shape of Water is currently being showered with awards, and rightly so; in addition to being visually stunning, it’s a delicate and absorbing fable that is a testament to the power of love and compassion. Populated with captivating performances and delicious design, it’s bound to go over swimmingly with fans of del Toro and genre work alike.

The Shape of Water is available in Australian cinemas from January 18 

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Movie Review – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Three HOF writers clash lightsabers over the newest entry in the Star Wars franchise, but what’s the final verdict? Read on to find out!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Rhys Graeme-Drury

The continuing adventures of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and co, Star Wars: The Last Jedi sees director Rian Johnson (Looper) take hold of the reins and steer the series into stranger, bolder territory than ever before. Whilst Rey is furthering her training under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Finn joins forces with Poe and new character Rose (Kelly-Marie Tran) in a desperate race against time to save the Resistance from certain defeat.

Channelling influences that range from Akira Kurosawa to manga and anime, Johnson subverts expectation at every turn in The Last Jedi, undercutting theory and speculation to challenge audiences. Undoubtedly the strongest aspect of his film is the evolving dynamic between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver); emotional, unexpected and at times surreal, Johnson reshapes our understanding of the universe to deepen the connection between his two leads. Hamill also rises to the occasion, delivering his best ever performance as Luke Skywalker. Poe and General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) are also afforded a satisfying and touching storyline that farewells the latter with power and grace.

Where The Force Awakens was expected, The Last Jedi is daring; not everything sticks (some of the humour falls flat and Boyega’s arc is rushed and surprisingly pointless), but on the whole this is a gargantuan effort that thrills and shocks in equal measure.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Josip Knezevic

While others might think it daring and bold, it seems to me that Disney has tried to please as many people as possible with this latest entry. Much like the oversaturated burst of nostalgia that was Star Wars: The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi has fallen prey to following conventional tropes, making it a forgettable addition to the series – in my opinion.

I hold Star Wars in such high regard because, well – it’s Star Wars. The Last Jedi’s stock-standard, crowd-pleasing formula is quite simply an insult to the entire franchise. The Empire Strikes Back is arguably the best of the original trilogy because it’s shocking and fierce, with giant discoveries, twists and betrayals. The Last Jedi has none of that, and it’s a shame because Johnson has proven he has the ability to do all those things. It’s tough to explain without revealing spoilers, but essentially, if you’ve seen the original trilogy, you’ll know what’s going to happen here.

Don’t get me wrong, if same old is what you want, you’ll enjoy The Last Jedi, but if you’re wanting more, I’d suggest you lower your expectations.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

Ultimately, the necessity of these new Star Wars films is called into question. I enjoyed The Force Awakens. Whether it regurgitated the original trilogy didn’t matter to me, and it doesn’t matter to me now. The Force Awakens offered up new and exciting heroes, and comforted the franchise with tangible practical effects. It looked and felt like Star Wars. The Last Jedi, however, is a little shaky in that department.

Jokes and gags are delivered out of character. Little things like dusting off a shoulder to prove invincibility seems like a gesture that belongs in All Eyez on Me instead of the Star Wars universe. Tiny alien birds try too hard to be cute. And Johnson makes the fatal flaw of relying on computer graphics to make his movie happen; scenes on an extravagant casino island have the look and feel of the Prequels – never a good sign.

Despite these issues, I believe The Last Jedi is still an utterly worthy addition to the saga. I’m just praying Episode IX brings us to a place we’ve truly never been. All us patient Star Wars fans deserve at least that much.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is available in Australian cinemas from December 14

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Movie Review – Coco

Pixar’s Coco may not have the majesty of some of its greats, but it still gets the job done with delightful aplomb.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Zachary Cruz-Tan

I suspect the writers of Coco, Disney/Pixar’s newest family film, started their screenplay with the end. They had the perfect idea for an emotional clincher and simply needed to fill in the first two acts to qualify as a feature. The result is a charming little story about family that’s half magical wonder, half silly adventure, and the two don’t always mesh.

Take the premise, for example. Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) is an adorable little boy in Mexico who is cursed to love music in a family that has primed him to become a shoemaker, kinda like Merida wanting to be a warrior instead of a betrothed sovereign, or Moana wanting to be an explorer instead of a tribeswoman. Disney enjoys its formulas.

During the Day of the Dead festivities, Miguel is whimsically transported to the realm of the deceased, which, according to Coco, looks like floating favelas, only more colourful, and operates in a manner not unlike the afterlife in Beetlejuice (1988). We learn that our ancestors don’t really die; they move on to this floating world and return to the land of the living as skeletal spectres every year to commune and retrieve our offerings. Doesn’t this seem like the ideal platform on which to develop a touching story about our past relatives coming to see us, lamenting death and missed opportunities, maybe asking for forgiveness or marvelling at how well their descendants turned out? No such luck. Coco chooses the lighter approach, and cobbles together a ragtag coming-of-age adventure in which Miguel has to dash through the afterlife to find his musical idol and get him to send him back to our dimension before he, too, turns into a quivering mass of bones.

Miguel doesn’t seem astonished to meet his forebears any more than his forebears seem pleased to meet their great-great-great-grandson. I can only imagine the amount of questions I’d have for my great-grandma if I got to meet her sentient skeleton. Coco doesn’t pause long enough for moments like this. It has a winner of a crescendo to get to and wastes little time getting there.

I will not bother you with the details of the plot and what this crescendo actually involves. Let’s just say Pixar, whether delivering a masterpiece or humdrum mediocrity, always manages to turn a standard idea into a champion. Adventure aside, I liked Miguel. He’s plucky and cute, and Gonzalez voices him with great urgency. The afterlife, for all its clamour, turns what would have been a boring re-tread of bygone plots into a world of wonder and excitement. It is visually alive, with intricate details decorating every corner of the frame. I liked the fact that the core story doesn’t really hinge on Miguel, and that Coco manages to dispatch its message cleanly and powerfully. It hit me right in the heart, even if I saw the shot coming a mile away.

I only wish the writers, Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich, had been bolder, and possibly a bit smarter. I cannot fault the cast or the film’s design, but had the writers ventured deeper into the possibilities of contacting the dead Coco might have been in the league of Inside Out. As it is, it’s more on the same level as Big Hero 6, which, all things considered, is still mighty fine company.

Coco is available in Australian cinemas from Boxing Day 

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Movie Review – Flatliners

No pulse detected on this 90s sci-fi thriller remake.

⭐ ⭐ ½     
Elle Cahill 

Another day, another remake; Flatliners sees Joel Schumacher‘s largely forgotten 1990 film of the same name return to cinemas, begging the question why any studio would feel the need to revive this film. Presumably, Sony hoped today’s audiences would be more receptive to the daring concept, but the original’s failings were never conceptual. Where both films fall down is in execution.

Medical student Courtney (Ellen Page) leads an experiment to visit the afterlife that involves stopping the heart of a subject then reviving them before they hit the four-minute mark. Following the success of her first experiment, each of her fellow students go on to experience the afterlife, only to learn death is something that shouldn’t be meddled with…

On paper, it’s got all the makings for a hit. In the director’s chair is Niels Arden Oplev; most well-known for the Swedish Millennium trilogy (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), he’s proven his abilities to handle sensitive themes before. His cast, much like the original, is filled with “hot right now” stars including Page (Inception), Diego Luna (Rogue One) and Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) who have all dared to push the realms of our existence before.

It’s got everything going for it, but it just doesn’t connect. Maybe it’s the overuse of archetypal characters; there’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, and the cast struggle to get any sort of emotional weight out of the limited material on offer. Or it could be that the afterlife purgatory theme throughout is awfully contrived, with each character having to face some sort of moral dilemma that’s filled with plot holes and inconsistencies.

Page isn’t her usual sassy, witty self that we’ve come to know and love, and her supporting cast don’t offer much either. James Norton‘s turn as womanising Jamie is overplayed as is Kiersey Clemons as the highly-strung Sophia in constant contact with her overbearing mother.

For a film marketing itself as a thriller, all it really offers is some jump scares and cheap thrills. My only hope is that when they remake this in another 17 years’ time, they’ll learn from the two previous films and actually make something of this premise.

Flatliners is available in Australian cinemas from September 28

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

Movie Review – Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is a complex beast of a movie. Gargantuan in many ways, both good and bad, it’s a film that we’ll be wrestling with for years to come.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Michael Philp 

Picture a white landscape, tiled with buildings that are only distinguishable by the lines between them. Lights swirl beneath the surface – slowly shifting signs of consciousness – as the camera flies along towards an unknown destination. Eventually, it reaches a small farm, where Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) emerges from a tent to attend to a boiling pot of soup. LAPD blade runner, K (Ryan Gosling), is already waiting for him.

These images are how director Denis Villeneuve stakes his claim to one of science fiction’s most beloved properties: by moving outside of its city and into a whole new behemoth of a universe. Sure, LA is still there, and it’s still perpetually raining, but it’s no longer the main feature. We’re treated instead to an endless buffet of visual delights from outside its borders. A wasteland of orange cloud, fields of trash that orphans scrounge shelter from, the cold white of long-dead farmland, the list goes on. Visuals-wise, there isn’t a damn second of this film that isn’t meticulously crafted. That’d be impressive for a normal blockbuster, but then you notice the run-time, and it hits home what an achievement Blade Runner 2049 is. Villeneuve has blown his competition out of the water, and for that alone he deserves commendation.

He also deserves commendation for expertly walking the line between old and new. It’s not just that he’s expanded the world, it’s that he’s managed to do that while staying true to the original’s iconic aesthetic, and also appropriately updating it. Not only is the colour palette wider, but modern VFX techniques are used alongside old ones to stunning effect. At times it feels more like a homage than an actual sequel, and that’s absolutely a good thing. 2049 is the kind of film that Nicholas Winding-Refn would make if you drowned him in money, and who doesn’t want that?

Even the politics get a good once-over, with climate change and drone warfare now sub-textual factors. It’s not subtle, I’ll give you that, but it helps the film feel appropriately contemporary. Villeneuve has transposed our modern worries onto a familiar template and given it a fresh coat of paint.

That fresh coat can feel jarring at first, though. Lighting enthusiasts will pick the problem up instantly – cinematographer Roger Deakins has lit everything far too well for a supposed noir film. A bright, clean office? That’s not noir, and it’s certainly not Blade Runner, what the hell were they thinking? Have faith, my friends, the second half of the film contains all of the heavenly contrasts you could ask for. One character even jokes about preferring the lights to be brighter, so at least you know Villeneuve is in on it. Again, not subtle, but it’s something.

It’s also undeniable that 2049 is a much more bombastic film than its predecessor. Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch‘s score is probably the worst culprit, but he’s only matching the rest of the film’s various explosions and fist-fights. Where the original went small, 2049 goes big. You can partially excuse this enlargement with the fact that 30 years have passed since the events of the first film, so it’s natural for things to have escalated in some ways. But still, it’s hard not to feel a bit weirded out by it. 2049 is Blade Runner reimagined as a true Hollywood blockbuster, and it’s hard not to miss the intimacy of the original.

Blade Runner 2049 is the kind of film you can write entire theses about; it’s that big. Unfortunately, that enormity is also a double-edged sword, and will probably divide fans for years to come. One viewing just doesn’t feel adequate to understand its complexities; there’s too much information demanding to be absorbed. I’m sure that opinions to it will shift over time, as they did with the original. For now, be assured that it is well worth your time and consideration. You’ll walk out desperate for a second viewing, and that’s a remarkable feat for a three-hour film. It’s a miracle, really, but Villeneuve has delivered the best film we could have hoped for.

Blade Runner 2049 is available in Australian cinemas from October 5 

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

Classic Review – Blade Runner 1982

Visually breathtaking, even 35 years later, Blade Runner rightly remains a science fiction classic.

Michael Philp 

The year is 2019, and smokestacks spout fire above Los Angeles. Below, the streets are bursting with life. Neon stalls and crowded markets suffer through rain and smog, flying cars purge themselves in filthy alleyways, and the all-seeing eye of an advertising blimp glides between the buildings. Towering above it all is the Tyrell Corporation’s ziggurat – a monument to the god of this new world, Dr Eldon Tyrell, the creator of more-human-than-human replicants.

These are the first images of Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece, Blade Runner, and they are stunning. Better yet, over the next two hours, you get to witness imagery even more sumptuous and intriguing, while connecting with some of the richest characters in science fiction. We will follow grizzled Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), as he tracks down and “retires” four escaped replicants – banned bioengineered androids. We will sympathise with those replicants and their search for life beyond their creator’s intentions. And ultimately, we will sympathise with Deckard as he struggles with a brutal system that cares little for the lives within it.

Visually speaking, Scott never stops pushing his film. From those first flaming stacks to Roy Batty’s (Rutger Hauer) final monologue, near every frame of the movie is a feast for the eyes. The contrasted lighting helps immensely in this, setting a noirish mood that reflects the film’s oppressively dark and dirty world. An early bathroom scene particularly stands out, with a fluorescent tube gorgeously backlighting Deckard. Compare that shot to any number in Drive, and it’s clear that film-makers are still openly copying Blade Runner 35 years later – it’s just that cool.

Aside from the lighting, Scott is constantly filling the frame with detail and symbolism. Look out for numerous instances of eye imagery – a visual metaphor that suggests surveillance, humanity, and knowledge. Or perhaps you’d prefer something more subtle, like the fact that they modelled Eldon Tyrell’s bedroom on the Pope’s – something that immediately highlights the film’s religious themes. These little details all build upon one another, creating a rich tapestry of meaning. All of a sudden, Tyrell’s pet owl – also a bioengineered creation – becomes not only a symbol of his wealth, but also his knowledge and divine aspirations. These are the details that make Blade Runner such a beloved film. Repeat viewings are virtually mandatory for a film with this much depth.

The visuals would be empty though without talented actors backing them up, which is why it’s such a blessing that Blade Runner has one of the best performances of the 80’s in Hauer’s Batty. Larger than life, Batty is a magnificently complex creature. Deeply aware of his looming mortality and disposableness, Batty initially attempts to bargain with his creator, before finally rising above a system that considers him worthless. His bemused resignation at the end – a slight smile as he reminisces about the wonders he has seen – is one of the film’s crowning achievements, humanising him to an incredible degree. The life behind Hauer’s performance is awe-inspiring, particularly when taking into account the fact that Batty has had to fight for its recognition. The world sees him as nothing more than an off-world slave, making it even more powerful to watch Batty shed himself of those chains.

Blade Runner is a behemoth of science fiction, and rightly so. It’s an incredibly rich film that takes science fiction concepts dating back to the original Frankenstein and depicts them with nuance and humanity. What right does anyone have to dictate who is and is not human? What right do we have to create life and then dictate its purpose? These questions are at the core of Blade Runner and are served well by some of the best visuals of Ridley Scott’s career. As we approach the release date of Blade Runner 2049, it’s amazing that the original film can still hold its weight. Here’s to hoping that its moments won’t all be lost in time.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros